photos by David Newkirk
Lost Art Tattooing and Piercing Studio in Ogden has transformed a lot over the years. From changes in formatting, artists and shop staff to last year’s location change, Lost Art has survived it all. In these hard times of economic recession, many businesses are downsizing if not closing up shop all together, but Lost Art has never been known to follow in footsteps of others. They’ve upgraded and expanded their business ventures, throwing caution to the wind. I sat down with shop owner/ partner and part mastermind Nate Drew and talked about his origins in the tattoo business, the changes to the shop, Ogden as a whole and the future.
Drew grew up in the Tallahassee, Fla. and Richmond, Va. areas and became familiar with tattooing at a young age. “I’m from a family of fine artists and rebelled against that. I got kicked out of school at 14 or 15 and was hanging out with punk rockers, living in a punk house,” Drew said. “I already had a home-made tattoo, but became interested in tattooing through a couple of friends.” As a young teenager, Drew had to catch a two-hour ride from Tallahassee to Panama City to go to his first studio. “The guys name was Adam West, not Adam West as in Batman, but as in the ‘Tat Man,’” he said. “This guy was the epitome of a biker tattooer and he was burly. I wanted to get a chest piece and he asked me what I had to give him.” Drew explained that at this time tattooing worked on the bartering system and it was long before you would ever see a credit card machine inside a shop. “That shit was unheard of back then,” Drew said. “I told him I had a hundred dollars. I remember I was so fucking scared that it wasn’t even funny. He told me to sit down and shut the fuck up.”
After that, Drew went on to draw tattoos for his friends, who would take his drawings to Adam West to tattoo onto them. A little later on, Drew was offered the opportunity to attend a fine arts college. His parents had pulled a few strings, seeing as Drew hadn’t graduated and only had his GED. He declined the offer, knowing he had already found his true passion in life. A lot has changed for Drew since those early days. He relocated to Utah over a decade ago and is married with two children. Drew recently relocated his family back to the east coast, but continues to spend about four months out of the year back in Utah taking care of his clients and overseeing his businesses. When in Utah, Drew prefers spending time at his new Ogden location, watching it grow into the ideal work environment he has always dreamed of.
The new shop is located at 109 25th Street, right in the middle of a historic district of Ogden where old western-style buildings create the architectural landscape. The shop is two stories and almost 3,000 square feet. “That’s about three times the size of the Salt Lake location,” said Drew. When first walking into the shop, you’ll notice the beautiful hardwood floors and open space. The walls are tastefully decorated with tattoo artists’ original paintings and flash reference work. You’ll definitely notice the twelve-foot ceilings on both floors of the shop. All of these things come together to form a very homey, comfortable and informal atmosphere. The historic neighborhood once housed brothels, bars, gambling and opium dens. Drew and the rest of the shop guys are stoked to be in the thick of Ogden and are bringing back some of its original flavor. “Sure, that was back in the day, but we feel that we’re a perfect fit for the area and keeping its old charm alive,” Drew said.
Initially, other shop owners in the area were weary of a tattoo parlor moving in and the type of people it might attract. After seeing the hard work and conscious effort the guys had put in to restore the historical storefront, they were shocked to say the least. “It brought a smile to my face and I was stoked to have fellow shop owners tell me I had one of the nicest shops on 25th street,” Drew said. “People told me they could tell how much thought went into the development process.” Since opening its doors, the Ogden location has been running as smoothly as possible and things are definitely on the up and up. “I have a lot of clients who aren’t able to schedule a time in Salt Lake and make their first trip up to Ogden. It’s such a special atmosphere, they prefer making the drive up north,” Drew said. “It’s not a typical tattoo shop, it’s a tattoo experience.” Drew definitely would like to note how much help his partners have been throughout the years. “Dean Bodily has been in it with me since day one as far Ogden goes.” Bodily spends time at both shop locations taking care of his clients and developing relations with new customers, adding even more to his reputation as one of the premiere artists of his craft in the state. Jeremy Israel is a partner at the Ogden location as well the resident piercing artist. Drew said, “Jeremy is the baddest motherfucker I know –– he is one of the most solid people I have ever met, straight up.” Though Jeremy doesn’t fit the stereotypical piercing artist mold, he has been piercing since before anyone can remember and he doesn’t feel the need to wear it on his sleeve. “You don’t need to look like a tackle box to know what you’re doing,” Drew said. “I’ve seen customers come in and be astounded when they find out Jeremy will be doing their piercing work because he has minimal visual piercings himself.” Drew assures me that Jeremy knows everything from A to Z about his craft and you won’t find a cooler cat to get your work done by.
Between zapping people all day and taking care of business at his SLC bar (The Jackalope), it was a challenge for Drew to even set aside time for this interview. Drew has his hands full over the next few weeks as he and his partner CJ Starkley prepare for the Salt Lake City 6th Annual International Tattoo Convention, which takes place Feb. 13-15 at the Salt Palace Convention Center. If you haven’t had the pleasure of checking out Drew’s work or any of the other tattoo artists of Lost Art Studios, the convention would be great place to familiarize yourself. The convention features some of the best tattoo artists from around the world, as well as live musical acts and daily tattoo contests. There is also a kid’s play area and food court, so don’t be afraid to bring down the whole family.
To schedule an appointment at Lost Art, visit lostarttattoo. com or call 801-537-7858 in Salt Lake or 801-393- 4901 in Ogden. For info on the Salt Lake City 6thAnnual Tattoo Convention visit slctattoo.com.
photos by David Newkirk